Tuesday, January 22, 2019


ChiIL Live Shows on our radar


I've caught The Magic Parlour every few years, since it's early days in the eclectic basement digs of Chopin Theatre. Back in 2012 I had the great pleasure of interviewing mystifying magician, Dennis Watkins, in his home. Check it out here:

Dennis Watkins expounds on being Harry Houdini in Death and Harry Houdini for Chicago's House Theatre and being his own magical self in the long running Magic Parlour show. He's done the water torture cell escape upwards of 100 times now! He also discusses the history of the show as it's evolved since 2001 and his own family history of magicians.

Since then, Watkins has moved up in the world, out of the cellar and into the elegant Palmer House Hilton Hotel! The Magic Parlour is a top pick of ours for tourists and locals alike. Watkins is charismatic, charming, and utterly baffling, while remaining refreshingly free of ego. The Magic Parlour show and Potter's Palmer House local are classic Chicago and truly a treat. 

Over the past eight years, my husband, kids, and friends have joined me at various Magic Parlour performances, and all have been amazed and well entertained by Dennis Watkins' close magic. Watkins remains one of our favorite premiere prestidigitators. We're excited to celebrate his 1,000th performance this month, as star in the longest currently running magic show in Chicago. Highly recommended! 

Dennis Watkins, a renowned third-generation magician and mentalist, has baffled and bemused audiences with his performance of The Magic Parlour. Produced by The House Theatre of Chicago, Watkins reaches a milestone on January 25 when he presents his 1,000th performance in the longest currently running magic show in Chicago. Each week, intimate audiences of just 44 guests are treated to 90 minutes of tom-foolery through close-up magic and mystifying mentalism at the storied Palmer House, a Hilton Hotel, 17 E. Monroe. The 1,000th show will be performed Friday, Jan. 25 at 9:30 p.m. While seating is limited for this milestone performance, the open run show continues in its season of five shows weekly thereafter. To find more about Watkins and The Magic Parlour, visit

“When we conjured up The Magic Parlour, it was a once-weekly late-night show in Wicker Park. Finding our home at the Palmer House on New Year’s Eve 2011 helped us evolve this project into the sophisticated production it is today. The audience’s imagination is at the heart of a truly magical and personal experience,” says Watkins.

The Palmer House has a rich history filled with hosting nearly a century’s worth of legendary magic performers including Chicago native and world-renowned magician Harry Blackstone, Sr., Paul Rosini, Richard Cardini, Ching Ling Fu and others. Watkins’ unsurpassed milestone at the historic venue is a testament to his ability to meld the best of magic’s captivating draw with a modern show, keeping the allure of Chicago’s deep-rooted magic scene alive for locals and visitors alike.

Available for only The Magic Parlour ticket holders, guests can toast the occasion with a magical cocktail and a special prix-fixe Magic Menu dinner at Lockwood Restaurant & Bar at Palmer House throughout February. 

I can attest, their food is fantastic! 

“I keep the show fresh by adding new material throughout each year, always diving deeper into the lessons about inspiring wonder my grandad imparted to me.  With both believers and skeptics participating, every show is a one-of-a-kind happening,” explains Watkins.

The Magic Parlour is an upscale event and cocktail attire is encouraged. The show is open to guests ages 12 and older. Tickets for The Magic Parlour are $79 or $89 each, which includes wine, beer and soft drinks served during the performance. The prix-fixe Magic Menu at Lockwood Restaurant & Bar costs $41 per person, all inclusive, and dinner reservations can be reserved at the time of ticketing.

Purchase tickets at or by calling The House Theatre of Chicago Box Office at 773-769-3832. 

Dennis Watkins is a third-generation magician who travels the country bringing world-class magic to the world's largest companies, as well as exclusive private and society events.

Watkins' critically-acclaimed one-man-show, The Magic Parlour, has been running at the Palmer House Hilton Hotel in downtown Chicago for seven years. Produced by The House Theatre of Chicago, The Magic Parlour is an intimate evening of classic magic and impossible mind-reading in a private suite at one of Chicago's most historic and noteworthy hotels. 

As a Company Member with The House Theatre of Chicago, Watkins has written, acted, and directed and performed in over 21 world-premiere productions. He appears as one of America’s greatest magicians in The House’s production of Death & Harry Houdini, including a death-defying nightly performance of the Water Torture Cell. Houdini has played seven times in Chicago over The House’s 17-year history. With awards and honors from the Texas Association of Magicians, the Society of American Magicians, the International Brotherhood of Magicians, and the Desert Magic Seminar, Dennis specializes in creating unforgettable magical experiences for each and every one of his audiences. The Chicago-based magician was honored to be an invited guest on Penn & Teller’s Fool Us television show.

The Magic Parlour starring Dennis Watkins is an intimate evening of classic magic and mind-reading featuring the work of the third-generation magician. Guests to this intimate, magic-packed evening gather at Potter's in the Palmer House lobby before Watkins personally escorts them to the performance space. Once inside, the audience participates in much of the performance as Watkins wows the room with classic sleight of hand, unbelievable mind-reading and magical wisdom passed down from his grandfather. 

Since finding its home at The Palmer House on New Year’s Eve of 2011, The Magic Parlour has enjoyed phenomenal success and unimagined growth.  With only 44 seats available per show, The Magic Parlour has entertained over 30,000 guests for nearly 1,000 ticketed audiences and dozens of private groups, facilitated three truly magical wedding proposals, and has been featured in two books (Chicago Magic: A History of Stagecraft and Spectacle and 100 Things to do in Chicago Before You Die).

The House is Chicago's premier home for intimate, original works of epic story and stagecraft. Founded in 2001, led by Artistic Director Nathan Allen, and driven by an interdisciplinary ensemble of Chicago’s next generation of great storytellers, The House aims to become a laboratory and platform for the evolution of the American theatre as an inclusive and popular art form.

Since becoming eligible in 2004, The House has won 22 Joseph Jefferson Awards, became the first recipient of Broadway in Chicago’s Emerging Theater Award in 2007, and was awarded a 2014 National Theatre Company Grant by the American Theatre Wing, founder of the Tony Awards®. 


JANUARY 25 – MARCH 10, 2019

Crowle Plays Eight Members of The D’Ysquith Family in this Tour de Force Musical about One Man’s Unbridled Journey to Inherit his Family’s Fortune Featuring Music by Stephen Lutvak, Lyrics by Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak, and a Tony Award-winning Book by Robert L. Freedman with Direction and Choreography by Stephen Schellhardt 
and Music Direction by Andra Velis Simon.

Porchlight Music Theatre’s Mainstage 2018 – 2019 season continues with 2014 Tony Award-winning Best Musical A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder, January 25 – March 10, 2019 at The Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn Street. A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder stars Matt Crowle and features Music by Stephen Lutvak, Lyrics by Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak, and a Tony Award-winning Book by Robert L. Freedman, is directed and choreographed by Stephen Schellhardt and music directed by Andra Velis Simon. 

I'll be ChiILin' with Chi, IL's Porchlight Music Theatre the first weekend in February, so check back soon for my full review. 

Previews are Friday, Jan. 25 at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Jan. 26 at 8 p.m.; Sunday, Jan. 27 at 2 p.m.; Monday, Jan. 28 at 7:30 p.m. Opening Night is Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019 at 7:30 p.m. The performance schedule is Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. (January 27, March 3 and March 10) and 6 p.m. (February 3, February 10, February 24 and March 10) with weekday matinee performances Thursday, Feb. 21 and Feb. 28 at 1:30 p.m. Please note: There are no performances Sunday, Feb. 2 at 4 p.m.; Thursday, Jan, 31, Thursday, Feb. 28 and Thursday, March 7 at 7:30 p.m.; full schedule is included at the end of the release. Tickets are $39 - $66 and are available at or by calling the Porchlight Music Theatre box office, 773.777.9884.

Based on the 1907 novel “Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal” by Roy Horniman and the source for the 1949 British film “Kind Hearts and Coronets” starring Alec Guinness, The New York Times said A Gentleman’s Guide is “Among the most inspired and entertaining new musicals." This tour de force musical comedy tells the uproarious story of Monty Navarro, an heir to a family fortune who sets out to jump the line of succession by eliminating the eight pesky relatives who stand in his way. All the while, Monty has to juggle his mistress (she’s after more than just love), his fiancée (she’s his cousin but who’s keeping track?), and the constant threat of landing behind bars! Of course, it will all be worth it if he can slay his way to his inheritance…and be done in time for tea. 

The cast of Porchlight Music Theatre’s A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder includes: Matt Crowle, “The D’Ysquith Family;” Andrés Enriquez, “Monty Navarro;” Caron Buinis, “Miss Shingle;” Emily Goldberg, “Sibella Hallward;” Ann Delaney, “Phoebe D’Ysquith;” Sharriese Hamilton, “Eugenia;” Ryan Dooley, “Magistrate;” Billy Dwyer, “Copley;” Megan Elk, “Tour Guide;” Rachel Klippel, “Barley;” Phoebe Moore, female swing and Adam Ross Brody, male swing.

The A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder production team includes Stephen Schellhardt, director and choreographer; Andra Velis Simon, music director, Aubrey Adams, assistant director/choreographer; Robert Hornbostel, sound designer; Jeff Hendry, costume designer; Denise Karczewski, lighting designer; Anthony Churchill, projection designer; Angie Miller, scenic designers; Kevin Barthel, wig designer; Mealah Heidenreich, props designer; Noah Watkins, assistant to the director; Linda Madonia, musician contractor; Mary Zanger, stage manager; Cody Westgaard, production manager and Bek Lambrecht; technical director.

ABOUT MATT CROWLE, “The D’Ysquith Family” 
Matt Crowle is a proud Porchlight Music Theatre artistic associate. Crowle gratefully returns to Porchlight where his credits include his recent Jeff-nominated turn as “Charley Kringas” in Merrily We Roll Along and” Hysterium” (Jeff Award) in A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum. Other Chicago theatre highlights include The Santaland Diaries at Goodman Theatre; The Producers (Leo Bloom) at Mercury Theater Chicago; Mary Poppins (Bert) at Paramount; Singin’ In The Rain (Cosmo Brown), Spamalot (Patsy), Bye Bye Birdie (Albert Peterson), and South Pacific (Luther Billis, Jeff Award) at Drury Lane Oakbrook. Broadway/National Tour: Monty Python’s Spamalot and Doctor Dolittle starring Tommy Tune. He earned his BFA in Music Theatre under the guidance and mentorship of the late great Dr. Bruce Kirle. 

Andrés Enriquez returns to Porchlight where he was previously seen in Merrily We Roll Along, In The Heights and New Faces Sing Broadway 1939.  He is an ensemble member at both Barrel of Monkeys Productions and Lifeline Theatre, where he is also the casting director. Enriquez is also proud to have worked at several Chicagoland theaters including Remy Bumppo, The Hypocrites, Fox Valley Repertory, Theater at the Center, 16th Street Theater and Lifeline Theater. 

ABOUT STEPHEN SCHELLHARDT, director and choreographer
Stephen Schellhardt has been acting, directing, choreographing, producing, casting and teaching professionally for over a decade. He has acted in numerous Equity productions in Chicago-area and regional theatres, receiving three Equity Jeff Award nominations and a Barrymore Award for acting, as well as a Non-Equity Jeff Award nomination for his directorial work on Urinetown, and his choreographic work on Dogfight at BoHo Theatre, where he was recently appointed artistic director. 

In Chicago, Schellenhardt has worked with the Marriott Theater, Writers Theatre, Drury Lane Theatre, Mercury Theater Chicago, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, About Face Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Chicago’s Lyric Opera, The Goodman Theatre, Porchlight Music Theatre, BoHo Theatre and the Ravinia Festival. National Tours include Altar Boyz. International credits include Jane Austen’s Persuasion at The Royal Winchester Theatre in England and the Shanklin Theatre on The Isle of Wight (Chamber Opera Chicago).  He has directed/choreographed at About Face Theatre, Writers Theatre, Timberlake Playhouse, The Summer Theatre of New Canaan, Ars Nova in New York City, The Casino Club, Northwestern University, and BoHo Theatre. 

He is a founding member of the Chicago Artists Chorale, co-director for The Children’s Theatre of Winnetka, casting associate at About Face Theatre and most recently served as the associate producer and casting director for Writers Theatre in Glencoe. 

Currently, Schellenhardt spends most of his time in Evanston where he is a full-time lecturer of musical theatre at Northwestern University and director of the annual Waa Mu Show. He is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University’s Drama School and a proud member of the Actors Equity Association. 

Andra Velis Simon is thrilled to return to Porchlight Music Theatre, where she music directed the Porchlight Revisits productions of They’re Playing Our Song and On a Clear Day. She is the resident music director for Firebrand Theatre, where she just completed their run of Caroline, or Change.  She also music directed Firebrand’s inaugural production of LIZZIE, as well as 9 to 5 The Musical.  Currently, Velis Simon is serving as vocal director for Steppenwolf Theatre Company's La Ruta by Isaac Gomez.  Her work as a music director, adapter, arranger, pianist and vocal coach has been seen regionally at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, A.R.T. in Cambridge, Brooklyn Academy of Music, NYU’s Skirball Center, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Pasadena Playhouse and Berkeley Rep. In Chicago, she has worked with The Goodman Theatre, The Hypocrites, Theater Wit, Chicago Children’s Theatre, and many others. From 2008-2016,Velis Simon served as the staff music director for the Theatre Department at Columbia College Chicago, where she continues to teach musical theatre performance.   

Porchlight Music Theatre is proud to be a member of the vibrant Ruth Page Center for the Arts community and an Artist In-Residence. Central to the Ruth Page Center for the Arts’ programming is the Artists In-Residence program, which is designed to serve organizations looking for a home base while they grow or expand their artistic and organizational capabilities. The Center is committed to nurturing and assisting dance and other performing artists, allowing for exchange and collaborative relationships to develop within the artistic community. The Ruth Page Center for the Arts is a destination for quality performing arts, accessible to a wide community regardless of race, gender, age, education or disability. An incubator of artistic energy and excellence, the Ruth Page Center for the Arts carries forward the vision of its founder, legendary dance icon Ruth Page, to be a platform for developing great artists and connecting them with audiences and community.

As Chicago’s home for music theatre, Porchlight Music Theatre continues its 24th season and its second as an Artist In-Residence at the historic Ruth Page Center for the Arts in Chicago’s Gold Coast. Porchlight Music Theatre is nationally recognized for reimagining classic productions, developing new works and showcasing musical theatre’s noted Chicago veterans and rising stars. Porchlight elevates the genre by providing intimate and powerful theatrical experiences of music theatre through the lens of the “Chicago Style.” Porchlight’s rich history includes the staging of more than 60 productions with 15 Chicago premieres and five world premieres. Through Porchlight’s “Off the Porch” new works program, the musicals of the next generation are developed and given a first audience. The School at Porchlight is Chicago’s center for music theatre training in the areas of performance, writing and appreciation including a youth summer “Make Your Own Musical” camp and a Saturday morning youth program. The company’s many accolades include 28 Black Theatre Alliance nominations and seven awards, as well as a total of 151 Joseph Jefferson Award nominations resulting in 42 Jeff Awards including five consecutive Best Production awards for The Scottsboro Boys (2017), Dreamgirls (2016), Sondheim on Sondheim (2015), Ain’t Misbehavin’ (2014) and A Class Act (2013).

Mr. Crowle’s performance is sponsored by Anne and Greg Taubeneck

Porchlight Music Theatre is supported by generous contributions from the Actors’ Equity Foundation, Bayless Family Foundation, Abe and Ida Cooper Foundation, Chapman | Spingola, Attorneys at Law, the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Elegant Events Lighting, James P. and Brenda S. Grusecki Family Foundation, Hopsmith Tavern, the MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at the Prince Foundation, the Morgan Stanley Foundation, The Saints, Top Nosh Hospitality and the Topfer Family Foundation. 

The season program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency, a state agency, and by a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events. 

Monday, January 21, 2019

OPENING: Midwest Premiere! of GIRL IN THE RED CORNER Via Broken Nose Theatre February 1 – March 2, 2019 at The Den Theatre

Midwest Premiere!
Broken Nose Theatre Presents
By Stephen Spotswood
Directed by Elizabeth Laidlaw 
February 1 – March 2, 2019 at The Den Theatre

All Performances Pay-What-You-Can!

Broken Nose Theatre is pleased to continue its seventh season with the Midwest premiere of Stephen Spotswood’s drama GIRL IN THE RED CORNER, directed by Elizabeth Laidlaw, playing February 1 – March 2, 2019 at BNT’s resident home, The Den Theatre (2A), 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. Tickets are currently available at Tickets for all Broken Nose Theatre productions are available on a “pay-what-you-can” basis, allowing patrons to set their own price and ensuring theatre remains economically accessible for all audiences. 

I'll be out for the press opening February 4th so check back soon for my full review.

GIRL IN THE RED CORNER will feature BNT company member Elise Marie Davis* and artistic associate Kim Boler^ with Michelle Courvais, August N. Forman and Mark West.

Unemployed and fresh from an abusive marriage, Halo steps into a gym one day and signs up for mixed martial arts lessons. Her family thinks it’s ridiculous. Her trainer thinks she’s soft. But none of them know the anger that fuels her ambition. When it’s rage that brought you into the cage, are you really ready to see what winning looks like? GIRL IN THE RED CORNER is a visceral, fast-moving tale of self-discovery, one that allows women to take centerstage in a world so often dominated by men.

Comments Artistic Director Elise Marie Davis, “Girl in the Red Corner is a show that allows women and other marginalized voices to step into a story (and an arena) so often dominated by men, all while being unapologetically messy and complicated and real. There's something extremely empowering about allowing women to be the anti-hero, about giving us a platform to tell stories of characters who often muddle the best of intentions with poor execution. We are thrilled to have director Elizabeth Laidlaw, fight choreographer John Tovar, and a host of other guest artists joining us for this production. Broken Nose is proud to bring this play and these characters to Chicago audiences, with their scrapes, scars and bruises on display for all to see.”

The production team for GIRL IN THE RED CORNER includes Therese Ritchie (scenic design), Lizzie Cook (costume design), Cat Davis (lighting design), Isaac Mandel (sound design), Devon Green^ (props design), John Tovar (fight choreography), Alison Dornheggen (associate director), Madisen Dempsey (assistant director), Rose Hamill* (production manager), Dominique Zaragoza (technical director), Liz Gomez (master electrician) and Jenna Thiel (stage manager).

* Denotes BNT company member   ^ Denotes BNT artistic associate      

Cast (in alphabetical order): Kim Boler^ (Brinn), Michelle Courvais (Terry), Elise Marie Davis* (Halo), August N. Forman (Gina) and Mark West (Warren).

Location: The Den Theatre (2A), 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago
Dates: Previews: Friday, February 1 at 7:30 pm and Saturday, February 2 at 7:30 pm

Opening: Sunday, February 3 at 3 pm
Press performance: Monday, February 4 at 7:30 pm
Regular run: Thursday, February 7 – Saturday, March 2, 2019
Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 3 pm
Industry night: Monday, February 18 at 7:30 pm
Understudy night: Wednesday, February 27 at 7:30 pm
Tickets: Pay-what-you-can. Tickets are currently available at

About the Artists
Stephen Spotswood (Playwright) is a DC-based playwright, educator and journalist, who received his MFA in playwriting from the Catholic University of America in 2009. At the 2017 Helen Hayes Awards, he received the Charles MacArthur Award For Outstanding New Play for Girl In The Red Corner. Produced works include: Doublewide (NNPN Rolling World Premiere); Girl In The Red Corner (The Welders); The Last Burlesque (Pinky Swear Productions); Walking The City Of Silence And Stone (Forum Theatre); In The Forest, She Grew Fangs (defunkt Theatre, Washington Rogues); We Tiresias (Best Drama, Capital Fringe Festival 2012); When the Stars Go Out (Bright Alchemy Theatre); Sisters of Ellery Hollow; The Resurrectionist King (Active Cultures Theatre); Off A Broken Road (Imagination Stage); and A Cre@tion Story for Naomi (Bright Alchemy). He is a current member of The Welders playwrights collective and a member of Forum Theatre’s artist ensemble.

Elizabeth Laidlaw (Director) has worked in Chicago and regional theatre professionally for 25 years. She is the founder and artistic director of Lakeside Shakespeare Theatre, begun in 2003. At LST, she has directed Romeo and Juliet and The Taming of the Shrew, and co-directed A Midsummer Night’s Dream (with Jeff Christian) and most recently Henry VIII, (with Christy Arington). She is also the co-producer (with Mia McCullough) of The Haven web series, co-directing episode 2. She assisted director Terry Kinney with East of Eden at Steppenwolf Theatre. This past season, she served as the intimacy consultant on The Doppelgänger, also at Steppenwolf, and as the violence and intimacy designer for A Moon for the Misbegotten at Writers Theatre. As an actor, Elizabeth has appeared onstage at Chicago Shakespeare, Steppenwolf, Writers Theatre, Court Theatre, The Goodman and many, many others. Film credits include the features, Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party, Into the Wake, Eastern College, Dimension and Three Days. Television includes Chicago PD and Crisis (NBC), Betrayal (ABC) and Boss (Starz), The Chicago Code (FOX). Ms. Laidlaw spent the autumn of 2018 filming The Red Line, a new drama series for Warner Bros and CBS television, written and produced by fellow Chicagoans Caitlin Parrish and Erica Weiss, Her voice can be heard narrating Hard Earned, a documentary produced by Kartemquin Films for Al-Jazeera America, and in numerous television commercials, audiobooks and video games. She received her BFA from Illinois Wesleyan University and completed post-graduate Shakespeare studies at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art of London, UK.

About Broken Nose Theatre:
Broken Nose Theatre is a Pay-What-You-Can theatre company. Founded in 2012, BNT was this year's recipient of the Emerging Theater Award, presented by the League of Chicago Theatres and Broadway in Chicago. The company has produced and developed 11 full-length plays (including 8 Chicago or World Premieres) and over 40 new womencentric short plays through their annual Bechdel Fest. We strive to spark conversation, cultivate empathy, and amplify underrepresented voices, and are committed to making new, exciting and relevant theatre that is economically accessible to all audiences. For more information, please visit

Warm Your Winter With Sausage Fest, First Thirst-Days, Valentine’s Kinderfest and More at HOFBRÄUHAUS CHICAGO


Hofbräuhaus Celebrates Munich-Style Valentine’s Day Offerings, Special Holiday Kid Menu Options, Seasonal Brews and More

Hofbräuhaus Chicago, the 20,000-square-foot German microbrewery, restaurant and beer hall located in Rosemont’s Parkway Bank Park entertainment district, will help its customers beat the winter blues this season with a variety of offerings including seasonal brews, free holiday meals for kids, a Valentine’s Day sausage fest celebration, Valentine’s Kinderfest and more.

To pair with its authentic German fare, Hofbräuhaus Chicago brews special seasonal beers each month at its onsite microbrewery. “Schwarzbier,” a deep black lager with a roasted malt and sweet chocolate flavor, will be available throughout the month of January. In February, guests can enjoy Hofbräuhaus Chicago’s Bockbier. These seasonal brews will join the three beers brewed and offered year-round at Hofbräuhaus Chicago: Lager, Hefe Weizen and Dunkel.

In addition to the live music offered every night by bands direct from Germany and Austria and launching their local artist evenings, Hofbräuhaus Chicago will host special performances from The Muller Fasching Verein Nordamerika Inc., also known as the Milwaukee Mullers, Saturday, Feb. 2 from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. The Mullers are a non-profit organization with a passion for spreading their Tyrolean (Austrian) folk customs to the United States through dance. Donning hand-carved wooden masks and unique costumes, the group travels across the country to perform a story surrounding the four seasons.

Hofbräuhaus Chicago will celebrate the arrival of each new seasonal beer on the first Thursday of every month with “First Thirst-Days.” Hofbräuhaus will host a small keg tapping ceremony at 7 p.m. with its brewmaster Rob Hunter. Hunter will provide visitors with more information about the seasonal beer, free half-liter samples of the new brew and brewery tours upon request. February’s “Bockbier First Thirst-Day” is scheduled for Thursday, February 7.

For winter fun for the whole family, Hofbräuhaus Chicago will offer free meals for kids under 12 with the purchase of a full priced meal for all school holidays including Martin Luther King Jr. Day, President’s Day, Pulaski Day and Memorial Day. On Sunday, February 10, the restaurant will host a “Valentine’s Kinderfest” from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Families can enjoy $5 meals for children ages 12 and under in addition to a variety of free activities including face painting, make your own valentine, a balloon artist, a parade and more.

Hofbräuhaus Chicago will celebrate the most romantic day of the year by hosting a “Sausage Fest” with a “This Isn’t Your Boyfriend’s Weiner Schnitzel” food special and beer pairing. The special will be valid on Thursday, Feb. 14, Friday, Feb. 15 and Saturday, Feb. 16.  The special food menu includes:

A sausage tower for $14.95 (regularly 24.95)
Salmon sausage with wild mushroom risotto and butter lemon sausage
Skillet fried cabbage with rabbit sausage and mashed potatoes
Grilled pierogis with kielbasa
Wurstplatte – a sausage plate with Vienna style frankfurter, pork and chicken sausages served with sauerkraut, mashed potatoes and onion mustard

In addition to the special Sausage Fest menu, Hofbräuhaus will host a Sausage Fest party for singles on Valentine’s Day with a variety of sausage themed games, giveaways and photo opportunities.

Hofbräuhaus Chicago is located at 5500 Park Place in Rosemont’s Parkway Bank Park entertainment district.  Valet parking is available for a minimal charge. Parking is also available in the nearby parking garage (free with validation). For reservations and more information, call 847-671-BREW (2739) or visit

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Jackie Taylor's Anti-Racism Drama Series and Residency Program Partners with Northeastern Illinois University January 2019 – March 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

Black Ensemble Theater and Northeastern Illinois University partner for 
Black Ensemble Theater’s 
Jackie Taylor's Anti-Racism Drama Series
and Residency Program
January 2019 – March 2019


Black Ensemble Theater and Northeastern Illinois University announce a partnership for Black Ensemble Theater’s Jackie Taylor's Anti-Racism Drama Series and Residency Program.  The series will include the staging of three one-act plays produced by the nationally renowned Black Ensemble Theater that speak to different aspects of racism. All performances will take place at Northeastern Illinois University locations, January 2019 – March 2019.

The Jackie Taylor Anti-Racism Drama Series consists of three dramatic plays written by members of Black Ensemble Theater’s Black Playwrights Initiative (BPI), an educational incubator for aspiring Black playwrights. The series features works that are relevant to current events and speak to the demise of recent racial equity issues.  The plays aim to help audiences understand the devastating effects of racism and to spark conversation about what we can do as a community to recognize and denounce racism.  All performances will be followed by a discussion with the audience.

Black Ensemble uses theater as a learning facilitator that purposely helps audiences respect and accept our differences while embracing our sameness as human beings. The three plays were written to motivate audiences toward having healthy, hearty and safe conversations about racism in our society. Post-show conversations will address how audiences can recognize racism on a systematic level while helping us to be active participants in denouncing and negating this ever-present issue.    

Plays and performances for The Jackie Taylor's Anti-Racism Drama Series are: 

January 17-19, 2019 

National Anthem
by Ervin Gardner
directed by Jackie Taylor

Thursday, January 17 at 7:30pm; Friday, January 18 at 7:30pm; and Saturday, January 19 at 5pm

NEIU Auditorium (Main Campus), 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.

This dramatic one-act play speaks to the controversy surrounding professional athletes and their right to peacefully protest. A star college athlete and pro prospect must decide whether or not to make a political stand in light of the possible consequences to his professional career.

February 7-9, 2019 

In The Shadow of Justice
by L. Maceo Ferris
directed by Rueben D. Echoles

Thursday, February 7 at 7:30pm; Friday, February 8 at 7:30pm; and Saturday, February 9 at 7:30pm

Donn F. Bailey Legacy Hall at the Jacob H. Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies, 700 E. Oakwood Blvd.

This intense drama depicts how two young Black police detectives—one woman and one man—are forced to face corruption, brutality and murder in a South Side Chicago police precinct where they have been assigned. Will they accept business as usual or care enough to try and change a racist status quo?  

March 14-16, 2019

The Plea
by Reginald Williams
directed by Daryl D. Brooks

Thursday, March 14 at 7:30pm; Friday, March 15 at 7:30pm; and Saturday, March 16 at 7:30pm

NEIU Stage Center Theatre (Main Campus), 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.           

The Plea addresses the violence epidemic that has engulfed so many Chicago communities resulting in senseless murders and the hopelessness and traumatic mental anguish that has consumed our neighborhoods. In particular, the play depicts how due process is withheld from so many in our criminal justice system which encourages plea-bargaining as opposed to trials that provide people with an opportunity to defend themselves.                                                                      

Tickets for individual productions are $20 and can be purchased online at Packages for the full series are $45 and are available by calling the Welcome Desk at (773) 442-4636. Tickets are free for Northeastern students, employees and alumni by calling the Welcome Desk or picking up tickets at the box office the night of the show.

As part of the partnership, Black Ensemble Theater will offer a Residency Program, which will allow Northeastern Illinois University students in a technical theater practicum to participate with the company in the technical aspects of producing each play. The program will give the students six (two for each play) master classes in theater areas of interest as defined by the students. All classes will be taught by the Black Ensemble play directors: Jackie Taylor, Founder and Executive Director, Daryl D. Brooks,Managing Producing Director, and Rueben Echoles, Associate Director.

About Northeastern Illinois University

Founded in 1867, Northeastern Illinois University has a rich tradition of educational innovation and prides itself on preparing teachers and administrators who make a difference in Chicago. That tradition continues to this day and has expanded to include an array of academic disciplines, allowing the University to embrace fully the community in which it resides. Northeastern is regarded as the most diverse public comprehensive university in the Midwest and is designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a Hispanic-Serving Institution. Diversity is an important factor in the character of Northeastern and in the social fabric of its student body. The University has an enrollment of more than 8,000 students; African American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American students represent roughly 60 percent of the student body.

With the Main Campus located on 67 acres in an attractive residential area on the Northwest Side of Chicago, the University offers more than 40 undergraduate degree and certificate programs and more than 50 graduate degree, certificate, licensure and endorsement programs. The University has additional locations in the metropolitan area: Jacob H. Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies, El Centro, Center for College Access & Success, and the University Center of Lake County.

Read more about Northeastern at

The Black Ensemble Theater  

The mission of the Black Ensemble Theater Company is to eradicate racism and its devastating effects upon society through the theater arts.  

Founded in 1976, by the phenomenal producer, playwright and actress Jackie Taylor, Black Ensemble Theater is the only African American theater located in the culturally, racially and ethnically diverse north side Uptown community. Through its Five Play Season of Excellence, The Black Ensemble Theater dazzles audiences locally, nationally and internationally with outstanding original musicals that are entertaining, educational and uplifting. The Black Ensemble Theater has produced more than 100 productions and employed over 5,000 artists. 

Educational outreach programs rooted in the performing arts were developed to mitigate the destructive consequences of racism and to empower youth, teenagers, the mentally and physically challenged and other disenfranchised communities to realize that despite the challenges they face, they too have greatness that must be recognized and utilized. More than 15,000 individuals are served annually through Black Ensemble Theater’s educational outreach programs.

For more information on the Black Ensemble Theater Company, visit or call 773-769-4451. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019


 ChiIL Live Shows on our radar


**All City Winery Chicago events are open to all ages and start at 8 p.m., unless noted.**

City Winery Chicago, 1200 W. Randolph Street, announces the return of Grammy-nominated independent R&B artist Eric Roberson and more. The following shows go on sale to the public on Thursday, January 17 at noon. All tickets will be available at

Chase the winter blues away with a host of wonderful concerts on tap at City Winery Chicago. I'll be out in person to cover Paris Combo and Rachael Yamagata this month for Check back soon for my full review. 

New Shows On Sale 1/17/19:

Victor Garcia
Tuesday, February 19

Grammy-nominated musician Victor Garcia is best-known for his extraordinary trumpet talent. Beyond this, he sings and plays percussion, bass, and congas. His songwriting, arrangements and charts have led him to professorial positions at Roosevelt University, Loyola University, and the University of Illinois in Chicago. As a young talent, he has performed with some of the greats including Aretha Franklin, Arturo Sandoval, the Temptations, and more. Garcia has recorded on dozens of albums, three of them Grammy-nominated. He released his debut album, The Grind/The Groove, in 2018.

Sunday, February 24; 7:30 p.m.

Chicago’s high energy World Music funk party band Funkadesi returns to City Winery. The ensemble blends their unique signature Indian styles — bhangra, Bollywood, Indian folk — with reggae, funk, and Afro-Caribbean grooves. The six-time winner of The Chicago Music Awards, Funkadesi has been lauded by critics and fans alike, even catching the attention of President Obama who noted, “Funkadesi really knows how to get a crowd going.” Expect a mix of lush ambient sounds, paired with the band’s signature diverse dance tunes.

Van Hunt
Tuesday, March 26

Van Hunt, a Dayton, Ohio-born musician, made his way to Atlanta where he drew acclaim for his production efforts and crafty songwriting, featured on recordings by such diverse artists as Dionne Farris, Rahsaan Patterson, and Cree Summer as well as the platinum-selling soundtrack, Love Jones. His own self-titled debut album arrived in 2004, instantly establishing Hunt as a distinctive and original talent with its idiosyncratic melding of R&B, soul, funk, pop, and rock ‘n’ roll. Hunt received a 2005 “Best Urban/Alternative Performance” Grammy nomination for his breakthrough hit single Dust that was featured on his debut album. Hunt has released four other studio albums since, some of which reaching Billboard’s Top 50 R&B/Hip hop and Heat Seekers charts, as well as “The Best Albums of 2011” by The New York Daily News, Chicago Tribune, LA Times, and a league of other music publications.

Story Jam
Sunday, April 7; 12 p.m.
GA $18 advanced seating/$22 day of show, plus $20 brunch buffet option

Story Jam is an exciting music-lit show that features Chicago's top storytellers, original songs written for each story, and a ten-piece band. The personal stories represent a range of cultural, racial, and individual experiences; and the band is comprised of some of Chicago's best musicians. Stephanie Rogers is producer-songwriter.

Tusk - The Ultimate Fleetwood Mac Experience 
Sunday, April 7 

Tusk covers all the great hits of Fleetwood Mac, which has featured the talents of Mick Fleetwood, Christine and John McVie, Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks and others over the years. The five seasoned, well-respected musicians comprising Tusk have been making music together in various combinations and styles, in original outfits and in cover bands, for over twenty-five years.

Eric Roberson 
Thursday-Saturday, April 25-27

Independent rhythm and blues/soul singer-songwriter Eric Roberson (Erro to his family and friends) is the first independent artist to be nominated for a BET Award in 2007 and has subsequently been nominated for two Grammys under Best Urban/Alternative Performance for the songs “A Tale of Two” and “Still,” both from his critically acclaimed album, Music Fan First.

Nancy and Beth
Monday-Tuesday, May 6-7

Emmy® Award winning actress Megan Mullally of “Children's Hospital,” “Party Down” and “Will & Grace” met fellow actress Stephanie Hunt (“Friday Night Lights,” “Californication”) while in Austin filming the independent movie Somebody Up There Likes Me. The minute the two started singing together they realized they had something special...and those that have come out to see their band, Nancy and Beth, agree! Within just three months of its inception in 2012, N&B had already played such fabulous venues as Royce Hall in Los Angeles and been featured as a musical guest on Conan.

Tickets go on sale to the general public on January 17 at noon. Only members of City Winery Chicago’s signature VinoFile™ program have access to ticket sales today in addition to receiving: a waiver of ticket service fees; free valet parking; Restaurant Loyalty Rewards, such as a free pair of VIP concert tickets for every $500 spent on food & beverage in the restaurant; exclusive membership-only events; and access to the proprietary City Winery Virtual Sommelier™, which helps make suggestions for wines one might enjoy based on past consumption at the venue.

Victor Garcia, Funkadesi, Van Hunt, Story Jam, Tusk, Eric Roberson and Nancy and Beth join a diverse mix of the most respected names in pop, rock, jazz, blues, world music, theater, dance, spoken word and comedy presented at City Winery Chicago, including previously announced headliners and supporting acts: Steve Earle (Jan. 15); EagleMania(Jan. 16); Paris Combo (Jan. 17); Skylar Grey (Jan. 18); Melanie Fiona (Jan. 19, 7 & 10p); GMiV plays The Beatles with Strings  (Jan. 20, 12p); Jodee Lewis & Jonas Friddle (Jan. 20, 7p); Let Freedom Ring, Chicago! (Jan. 21, 7:30p); The Hot Sardines (Jan. 23); Randy Bachman (Jan. 24-25); Chicago Philharmonic Sunday Brunch Series (Jan. 27, 12p);Susan Werner (Jan. 27); Trey McLaughlin & The Sounds of Zamar (Jan. 28, 7p); Rachael Yamagata with Radnor & Lee (Jan. 29-30); Alejandro Escovedo with Don Antonio Band  (Jan. 31-Feb. 2); Langston Hughes Birthday Celebration (Feb. 3); Ms. Lisa Fischer & Grand Baton (Feb. 4-5); Marcus Johnson with Kathy Kosins (Feb. 6); Marc Roberge of O.A.R. (Feb. 8, 7 & 10 p); Anders Osborne (Feb. 9, 7 & 10p); Fox Crossing String Band (Feb. 10, 12p); Anita Wilson with Dante Hall (Feb. 10, 7p); Ruen Brothers (Feb. 11);Hudson Taylor (Feb. 12); Patrizio Buanne (Feb. 13); 10,000 Maniacs (Feb. 14-16); Chicago Philharmonic Sunday Brunch Series (Feb. 17, 12p); Kandace Springs (Feb. 17);Donavon Frankenreiter (Feb. 18, 6:30 & 9p); Procol Harum (Feb. 20-21); Bobby McFerrin & Gimme 5 (Feb. 22-23, 7 & 10p); The Four C Notes (Feb. 24, 2:30p); Steve Earle(Feb. 25-26); Ann Hampton Callaway (Feb. 27); We Banjo 3 (Mar. 1); JD Souther & Karla Bonoff (Mar. 3, 5 & 8p); Aaron Neville (Mar. 4-5); The Ides of March (Mar. 6); Kasim Sulton's Utopia (Mar. 7);  Ron Pope with Caroline Spence (Mar. 8); Ron Pope with Emily Scott Robinson (Mar. 9); Chicago Tap Theatre (Mar. 10, 3 & 7p); Luther Dickinson, Amy Helm & Birds of Chicago (Mar. 11); The High Kings (Mar. 12-13); Eilen Jewell (Mar. 15); Los Lonely Boys (Mar. 16-17); Michael Smerconish: (Mar. 17, 2p); Chris Diffordwith Steve Smith (Mar. 18); Christopher Cross (Mar. 19-20); The Subdudes (Mar. 21-22); Idan Raichel (Mar.23); Freddy Jones Band (Mar. 24); Eighth Blackbird (Mar. 25, 7p);The Tim O’Brien Band (Mar. 27); The Verve Pipe (Mar. 29); Will Downing (Mar. 30-31); David Archuleta (Apr. 2); Tommy Castro & the Painkillers (Apr. 4); Cyrille Aimée (Apr. 5); Willie Nile (Apr. 6); John Parr (Apr. 10); Martin Sexton (Apr. 12-13); Journeyman - A Tribute to Eric Clapton (Apr. 14, 7p); Graham Parker with Adam Ezra (Apr. 18);Carbon Leaf (Apr. 19); Dave Davies (Apr. 21); Chicago Philharmonic Sunday Brunch Series (Apr. 28, 12p); The Spring Quartet (May 1, 2p); Herb Alpert & Lani Hall (May 4-5); and David Bromberg Quintet (May 15).

Opened in 2012, City Winery Chicago is a fully operational winery, restaurant with outdoor patio, concert hall and private event space located in the heart of the West Loop at 1200 W. Randolph, in the historic urban Fulton Market district. Once a refrigerated food distribution warehouse, the 1911 building has been transformed into a contemporary 33,000 square foot haven for those passionate about wine, music and culinary arts. The décor evokes the romance of being in wine country, from the exposed stainless steel fermenting tanks and French oak barrels, to the aroma of fermenting grapes. The West Loop’s only fully operational winery has produced dozens of in-house wines sourced from vineyards in California, Oregon, Washington, Argentina and Chile, including a Wine Enthusiast 92-point 2015 Verna’s Vineyard Reserve Pinot Noir. With more than 400 unique producers from around the world City Winery is recognized with 2014 and 2015 Best of Awards of Excellence “for having one of the most outstanding restaurant wine lists in the world” by Wine Spectator. The globally inspired, locally sourced, wine-focused food menu is conceived for pairing and sharing. The concert hall accommodates up to 300 guests, all seated at tables with complete beverage and dining service, ensuring a comfortable “listening room” experience enhanced by a state-of-the-art Meyer Sound system. Riedel is the official and exclusive provider of glassware, showing City Winery’s commitment to enjoying quality wine in a quality vessel. American Airlines is the Official Airline and Virgin Hotels Chicago is the Official Hotel of City Winery. For more information, please visit

REVIEW: Full Moon Vaudeville Kicks Off Rhinofest, Longest Running Chicago Fringe Fest Through February 24, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar
 The 30th annual Rhinoceros Theater Festival 
January 12 – February 24, 2019

Chicago’s Longest Running Fringe Festival Returns with Six Weeks of Performances and Special Events Including Full Moon Vaudeville and a Celebration of Poet and Teacher John Starrs

Curious Theatre Branch and Prop Thtr are proud to announce the 30th annual Rhinoceros Theater Festival (Rhinofest), January 12 – February 24, 2019 at Prop Thtr, 3502 N. Elston Ave. The 2019 Rhinofest includes six weeks of new plays, dance, devised works, variety shows, comedy, live podcasting, fresh takes on classic texts, and more. Tickets now on sale. Performances are $15 or pay-what-you-can, and run daily except Tuesdays. A complete performance schedule with performances, dates and times is available at

by bonnie kenaz-mara

Long live Chicago's fringe fest scene. The Rhinofest has a long and storied past and this prescient pachyderm is still running, barreling into the future with the city's hottest collection of acts that couldn't, shouldn't, wouldn't... be produced anywhere else. That's what I learned at the kick-off festivities. 

Avondale's funky Prop Theatre is the consummate host and ideal local for the fest. Despite snowy conditions, the opening night vibe was a happy hybrid of cast party and family reunion, replete with pizza and venn diagrams.  

On January 12th, I caught the traditional opening ceremony for Rhinofest, the Full Moon Vaudeville 2019, which was neither very vaudeville nor on the night of the full moon. January's Super Blood Wolf Moon with an Eclipse thrown in for good measure, is still coming January 21st, and with a title like that, it may well deserve its own top billing. 

(L to R)  Heather Riordan, Beau O'Reilly, Jenny Magnus, T-Roy Martin and Vicki Walden of THE CROOKED MOUTH, part of the 30th ANNUAL RHINOCEROS THEATER FESTIVAL, photo by Jeffrey Bivens

Described as a variety spectacular and communal how-do-you-do for show makers and audience members alike, curated by Rhino co-founder Beau O’Reilly, Full Moon Vaudeville played out like a family reunion full of inside jokes and fond recollections of shuttered venues and past productions. The original folk stylings of The Crooked Mouth were fun to hear, though many of the vocals were tough to make out, and that's where this band shines. There was less theatre than I'd hoped, loads of reminiscing, glowing odes to theatre as an art form, and even a power point presentation. All in all, it was a fun evening and a blast from the past. 

I first moved to Chicago in the fall of 1990, so Rhinocerous Fest and I share an anniversary. Back then I was a wide eyed newbie to big city life, with a freshly minted college degree, a minor in theatre arts, a desire to see EVERYTHING, and no disposable income to speak of. I started catching every "pay what you can", free, and cheap performance I could find, and quickly became a fan of the smart, quirky, bizarre stylings of Curious Theatre Branch and Maestro Subgum and the Whole. I still have a CD of theirs from back in the day.

We've all grown up and grown older together, and it's exciting to me to see this intrepid band of thinkers, writers, actors, and musicians still producing new works and performing on stage, as well as teaching and mentoring the next generation. At Saturday's kick-off, Curious Theatre Branch called for all the audience members and performers near 60 to stand, and celebrated them. Sure, there's plenty of new blood on stage at Rhinofest #30, but the old guard is still kicking ass, taking names, and rockin' the "air cane". 

We hope to catch much more of this year's iteration of Rhinofest. It's an eclectic lineup and an exciting chance to pick diamonds or drek. It's a gamble worth taking.

Bonnie Kenaz-Mara is a Chicago based writer-theater critic-photographer-videographer-actress-artist-general creatrix and Mama to two terrific teens. She owns two websites where she has published frequently since 2008: (adult) & (family friendly). 

more about the crooked mouth
We will be honest with you. The Crooked Mouth is hard to classify stylistically. Our sound weaves its way through different genres without fully making a home in any of them. We've been described as alt-country, alt-punk and cabaret. We all write songs and we all have our own way of coming at things, which lends itself to the sonic variety. It all comes together in the live shows. You should come and see us play.  No one can tell a story and captivate an audience better than our front man, Beau O'Reilly.

Beau and Jenny have been musical collaborators for decades—their previous band, Maestro Subgum and the Whole, was big, bold, cabaret-inspired, and beloved by many. Former Maestro fans have become our fans as well. Wander over to our music page, have a listen, and decide for yourself. Thanks for coming. We are always glad to see you.

We are:
Beau O’Reilly – lead vocals, cane, banter

Jenny Magnus – drums, vocals

T-Roy Martin – guitar, ukelele, trombone, banjo, vocals

Heather Riordan – accordion

Vicki Walden – bass, vocals

The Crooked Mouth is based in Chicago, on the uvulittle record label.
Download our eponymous CD, Yes Face, and/or LoveLoveLoveLoveStopLoveLoveLove at uvulittle or CDbaby.

"Yes Face is a terrifically good record. It travels on vocal harmonies and drums while it shimmers and jangles with strings. The drumming and bass are great, tempos and sophisticated time signatures change without fanfare, but rather with ease and confidence in a way the body experiences joyfully without having to filter it through the intellect."  — Jeff Dorchen for Chicago Arts Journal 

“Okay, The Crooked Mouth is just…I mean…Really, there is just no other band like The Crooked Mouth. The only other bands anything like The Crooked Mouth are with people who are already in the Crooked Mouth or existed with people in The Crooked Mouth before there was a Crooked Mouth. What a mouth is this Crooked Mouth. Yes. What other band has songs about belonging and not showing up, the heartbreak of professionalism, and having interesting middle-age problems? Furthermore, there are stories in between about enunciation and Bruce Willis, not to mention dynamic air-cane playing, acoustic guitar played in an insane electric way among other silky, stringed things and drums to piano and back and forth and back again with a percussion in the percussion of percussion.”    — Barrie Cole


Julia Williams of SKRIKER, part of the 30th ANNUAL RHINOCEROS THEATER FESTIVAL, photo by Jeffrey Bivens

(L to R) Beau O'Reilly, Patrick Ford, Bethany Arrington, Emily Rich, Barry Lohman and Julia William of SKRIKER, part of the 30th ANNUAL RHINOCEROS THEATER FESTIVAL, photo by Jeffrey Givens 

First organized in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago, Rhinofest, the longest-running multi-arts fringe festival in Chicago is unique among national fringe festivals in that artists are never charged a fee to participate, and each year programs are individually curated by a rotating selection committee composed of Curious and Prop artistic leaders, led by Beau O’Reilly, rather than selected on a lottery basis. The Rhinofest provides production and exhibition opportunities to hundreds of artists, from Chicago companies and national artists alike, drawing thousands in attendance each year.

The 30th Rhinofest begins Saturday, Jan. 12 at 8 p.m. with Full Moon Vaudeville, featuring The Crooked Mouth, piloted by Curious co-founders Beau O’Reilly and Jenny Magnus with special musical guests Matt Test, Jeff Kowalkowski, Mac Modean Greenberg, Leo Brün and more. 

Rhinofest2019-5 - Violet of BI-POLAR BITCH, part of the 30th ANNUAL RHINOCEROS THEATER FESTIVAL, photo by Larry Hart

(L to R) Diane Hamm, Robert Puig Cuevas, Violet and Kelly Anchors of BI-POLAR BITCH, part of the 30th ANNUAL RHINOCEROS THEATER FESTIVAL, photo by Larry Hart

Fiercely independent and committed to discovery, Rhinofest this year features many young performing companies including The Neighborhood Collective, El Bear, Uploose Odditorium, and others along with festival veterans including beloved Chicago playwright Barrie Cole (performing from her latest work in a two-evening engagement), animator Chris Sullivan, Susan Parenti and Mark Enslin (of the School for Designing a Society), Charles Pike (performing a new monologue by David Hauptschein), and Prop Thtr co-founder Scott Vehill. 

Littlebrain Theatre premieres a new devised adaptation of Vittoria de Sica’s Bicycle Thieves written by Zach Barr, Tara Branham directs Tanuja Jagernauth’s new interactive work Lockpickers, and Rob Onorato performs Night of a Million Barbras, a drag monologue and political paean to the enduring star. Curious Theatre Branch premieres Matt Rieger’s new razor-sharp comedy My Dinner with... Joe and a staging of Caryl Churchill’s dark fairytale The Skriker, while Prop Thtr produces a weekly live taping of Ben Moroney and Rahim Salaam’s arts and culture podcast “What About Chicago?!” And on Tuesday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m., during the final week of Rhinofest, a special event celebrates John Starrs, the Chicago poet and teacher who has appeared in every Rhinofest since 1988.

Diane Hamm of CABARET PROP'D, part of the 30th ANNUAL RHINOCEROS THEATER FESTIVAL, part of the 30th ANNUAL RHINOCEROS THEATER FESTIVAL, photo by Beast Women

About Prop Thtr
The Prop Thtr is a DIY incubator for new performance work in all disciplines, and is a charter member of both The League of Chicago Theaters and the National New Play Network. Prop Thtr produces new plays, special events, rolling world premieres with their NNPN members; they also helped launch The New Play Exchange and co-produce the annual Rhinoceros Theater Festival. Prop Thtr is a renter of performance and rehearsal space and camp/class space and collaborates with productions on location and around the city. Prop Thtr is an Illinois Not-For-Profit 501c3 Organization that benefits from support by the MacArthur Fund of the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation and The Illinois Arts Council, in addition to being supported by artists and audiences of Illinois.

About Curious Theatre Branch
Founded in 1988 by Jenny Magnus and Beau O'Reilly-as the Curious Theatre "Branch" of the alt-rock cabaret act Maestro Subgum and the Whole-Curious has consistently worked with an ensemble of artists in a non-hierarchical decision-making process, through which the philosophy of collaboration as a social force is explored on every level.

Curious Theatre Branch has produced more than 100 full productions of world-premiere shows in 30 years. Curious has developed its own recognizable style, using an economy of means and production to make deeper and deeper, rather than larger and larger, work. 

Curious Theatre Branch and Prop Thtr are proud to announce the 30th annual Rhinoceros Theater Festival (Rhinofest), January 12 – February 24, 2019 at Prop Thtr, 3502 N. Elston Ave. The 2019 Rhinofest includes six weeks of new plays, dance, devised works, variety shows, comedy, live podcasting, fresh takes on classic texts, and more. Tickets now on sale. Performances are $15 or pay-what-you-can, and run daily except Tuesdays. A complete performance schedule with performances, dates and times is available at

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